MEISSEN FIGURE OF HARLEQUIN WITH BAGPIPES
H: 5 ½ in. (14 cm)
A figure of Harlequin sitting on a rock, holding a set of bagpipes. He wears a red hat highlighted with gold, a white shirt decorated with polychrome flowers and a white ruff, and black breeches and shoes. This model is the counterpart to the Tyrolean girl playing the hurdy-gurdy.
Harlequin figures playing bagpipes were among the most popular figures produced at Meissen. The first instance of such a figure in Kändler’s Taxa appears in July 1736:
Einen Arlequin mit dem Tutel Sack aufs Lager geändert und zum abformen tüchtig gemacht
A Harlequin with bagpipes, in stock, figure changed and repaired for modelling.
As there are several versions the figure must have been revised and reworked several times between 1736 and 1750; some of the later versions may have been done under Kändler’s supervision. The earliest examples appear to have tricorne hats and are seated on plain craggy rock bases with their feet separate from the base, and clearly show Kändler’s distinctive style. A slightly later version has flowers on the mound, and a third version, this example, appears circa 1740-44 with a conical hat and a base adorned with applied leaves and flowers, where the feet are usually on the base. A female musician playing a hurdy-gurdy was paired with the Harlequin by the third reworking.
The figure may be based on the engraving by Charles-Antoine Coypel of a bagpiped from his series Don Quichote.